CDC Data Shows Omicron Subvariant XBB.1.5 Starting to Plateau at 90% of New COVID-19 Cases | Health News
The highly transmissible omicron subvariant that quickly rose to dominance in the U.S. appears to be plateauing.
XBB.1.5 made up 90% of new coronavirus cases this week, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s up slightly from nearly 89% of cases last week.
Previously, XBB.1.5 showed significantly larger growth week over week. For example, XBB.1.5 during the month of February grew from 62% of infections to more than 86% of cases.
While XBB.1.5’s growth has been slowing in recent weeks, there isn’t another strain challenging its dominance as of now. The next strain with the highest prevalence is BQ.1.1, making up more than 3% of cases this week. That’s a decline from 5% of infections the week before.
Coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths are on the decline, signaling that the U.S. avoided a large seasonal COVID-19 surge like it saw the past two years. The development’s main driver is likely the high level of immunity across the population whether through vaccination, infection or both.
About 35% of U.S. counties are experiencing a “high” level of COVID-19 transmission, according to CDC data. Nearly 23% are experiencing a “substantial” level of transmission, while over 42% are seeing a “moderate” or “low” level.
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Coronavirus cases and deaths are also declining globally. In fact, the number of COVID-19 deaths reported to the World Health Organization in the past four weeks was for the first time lower than when the organization first called COVID-19 a pandemic three years ago.
“I’m confident that this year we will be able to say that COVID-19 is over as a public health emergency of international concern,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a Friday press briefing.
While the end of the pandemic may be growing closer, the world is still a ways away from knowing the origin of the coronavirus.
Tedros this week commented on the release of genetic data from China that links the coronavirus to raccoon dogs for sale at the Wuhan market, urging the country to be transparent and open with its data.
“This data do not provide a definitive answer to the question of how the pandemic began, but every piece of data is important in moving us closer to that answer, and every piece of data relating to studying the origins of COVID-19 needs to be shared with the international community immediately,” Tedros said. “This data could have – and should have – been shared three years ago.”